Candidates go head-to-head on student issues

Concordia University became the latest battleground in the intense Montreal municipal election campaign. Representatives from the four major political parties converged at the De Seve Cinemas to square off on questions from the Concordia Student Union, in an attempt to bring the election closer to the lives of students.
In what was an overall lacklustre performance by all parties, housing concerns sparked heated debate.
Jean-Francois Larose, running for mayor in the Plateau-Mont-Royal district with the fledgling Parti Montréal Ville-Marie, emphasized public oversight of city hall’s decisions and incentives for property owners to create and sustain high-standard rental units.
Projet Montréal’s Carole Dupuis, who is running for borough mayor of Cote-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Gr’ce, called for a “minimum number of inspectors per borough.” She made a firm commitment to ensure “no unsafe or unclean housing because of a lack of inspectors.” Projet Montreal has been gaining in the polls; it remains in third place ahead of the Nov. 1 voting day.
David Hanna is Vision Montréal’s candidate for city councillor, N.D.G. He touted his party’s plan to follow Boston’s model of allowing residents to file complaints with city hall via smartphone applications specific to Montreal. Addressing the students in attendance he advised, “keep complaining until you get the answers you need.” Hanna, too, said a lack of housing inspectors is a problem in the city, and blamed the current party in power, Union Montréal, for having only 10 inspectors available for residential dwellings.
As expected, incumbent St-Laurent mayor Alan DeSousa of Union Montréal was on the defencive. He cited the importance of keeping the boroughs empowered and berated Vision Montréal’s plan for centralization. He said the current administration is building new housing on L’Acadie Blvd. and Christophe-Colomb Ave., effectively avoiding the question on housing for students.
As much as the issue of STM fares is of concern to students, there was little debate on the topic. Both Projet Montréal and Vision Montréal championed incorporating Opus card fees into tuition payments for all students, regardless of age or public transit use. Larose blasted the age cap on reduced fares, while DeSousa expressed the need for more funding for transit measures.


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